Sunday, 17 February 2013

Pushing The Children Back Outside

We have finally reached those first few days in the year that bring hopeful sunshine. At last we can feel the warmth of the sun on our faces and our hair. We can venture outside without having to wear several layers. It brings smiles and everyone can breathe out again, knowing that spring is on it's way.

Our boys have spent the last 3 months hibernating on screens inside the stuffy house. Oh yes, we've been out on snowy / rainy / squelchy walks and adventures. But our garden has been sadly neglected and is lonely for the cries, shouts and energy of little boys. The boys have lost the 'habit' of playing in the garden. They've forgotten how to do it. Does this mean that we give up and let them continue to build pretend houses on minecraft? Or do we somehow have to overcome the barrier and coax them back outside?

Pretend buildings on minecraft need to turn into real play houses and shelters in the garden. It's time for Operation Get The Boys Back Outside. Catchy title, I know. How on earth do we climb over the mountainous obstacle of the lure of the screen and the forgotten ability to have imaginative fun outside instead?

The answer is not difficult. I don't have any magic to wave over my bleary eyed boys. I bribe them. It's as simple as that. I feel so strongly that they need to get back outside and have fun playing in the garden, that I offer rewards for doing it. Only at the beginning of the year though. Once they have remembered how much they enjoy playing out there and making up adventures, they don't need rewards. The reward is being outside. So every year, once we can open the doors and windows again, you will find me offering prizes for various outside activities.

This morning, the reward was a cake for pudding. Food always goes down well in my house. Once they had been outside for a few minutes, they began discovering centipedes, millipedes and frogs. I watched as the lure of the outside began to take hold again on their little bodies and curious brains. As the seasons change they will discover different things to do - gardening in the spring, water fun in the summer, football, nest building, treehouse building. It will all come in it's time.

So don't give up if, like my boys, your children have been hibernating for the winter. Now is the time to open the doors and push them back outside. Do it now and you won't regret it, I promise.

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